Watchdog says 'no real liberation' in Marawi 3 years after Duterte's declaration
This undated photo shows war-torn Marawi City.
AFP/Ferdinandh Cabrera
Watchdog says 'no real liberation' in Marawi 3 years after Duterte's declaration
Christian Deiparine ( - October 18, 2020 - 3:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — A watchdog monitoring the rebuilding of the war-torn Marawi has lamented the slow progress in the city's reconstruction as well as lack of funds for the effort, three years since government declared its liberation.

The siege, led by Islamic State-influenced Maute group, began in late May 2017 and stretched on for months until October of the same year that left Marawi in rubble. 

The Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch, however, said that while most of the displaced were allowed to return to their homes, there had been no compensation for damage to properties and thousands still remain in evacuation shelters in poor conditions. 

"It has been three years since the government declared our city liberated, but there is no real liberation to speak of," the group said in a statement provided by International Alert Philippines. "The sad fact remains that progress is slow, funds are lacking, and implementation could be improved."

They added that within the three years since the end of the siege, only P22.2 billion had been released by government for reconstruction funds out of the P60.5 billion requirement. 

Secretary Eduardo del Rosario of the human settlements department last month vowed that 90% of infrastructure projects in the city would be done by December 2021, with the whole rehabilitation done within the Duterte administration's term. 

But given the current situation on the ground, the watchdog has its doubts if del Rosario's public declaration will soon see its full picture.

"The dismal amount on top of issues on disbursement and absorptive capacity in the past paint a bleak picture for us all," they said. "With only 16 months left until the 2021 year-end deadline of completing reconstruction projects, can the Duterte administration still deliver its promise that Marawi will rise as a prosperous and peaceful city again?"

Del Rosario, who is also the head of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, told congressmen that reconstruction had faced budget problems, while also maintaining that they are still on track in their timeline.

Estimates by the Asian Development Bank showed that the cost of damage in Marawi is at P11.5 billion, with losses at P7 billion. Displaced persons also numbered to nearly 370,000 or around 77,170 families.

The war had resulted in 168 casualties from state forces, with 114 civilians, 270 unidentified individuals and 924 men from rebel forces, still based on figures from ADB. 

Pandemic, other factors worsening situation in Marawi 

The Philippines has seen over 354,000 coronavirus infections so far, and the deadly virus had not spared the victims of the Maute siege. Instead, the ongoing health crisis even worsened their conditions. 

Citing figures from the provincial IATF, the reconstruction watch said Lanao del Sur has 697 confirmed cases, with 354 coming from Marawi. Of the said number, 111 of the province's 153 active cases or those showing symptoms come from the city as well. 

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic adds another layer to our hardship and suffering, and reinforce existing vulnerabilities, threats and risks," they added.

Other factors are also said to continue threatening the "fragile peace" within communities, such as tensions over land and property rights, which the group said could escalate "existing identity-related conflict and may trigger violation flashpoints and a stringing of conflict."

"Three years have passed and it has become clearer that we have not been truly liberated," the watchdog added. 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 18, 2020 - 10:57am

Vice President Leni Robredo releases a statement a year after the siege in Marawi. She says that even though the battle has ended, the fight to bring back to normal the lives and livelihood of Marawi residents continues.

"Marami pa ring pamilya ang walang permanenteng bahay at maayos na hanapbuhay. Maraming mga mamamayan ang nangangailangan pa rin ng ayuda," she says.

"Sinimulan na ng pamahalaan ang proseso ng rehabilitasyon. Nakiisa ang ating opisina rito sa pagtayo ng Angat Buhay Village sa Barangay Sagongsongan, sa Marawi, na magsisilbing kabahagi ng mga transitory shelter para sa mga nawalan ng tahanan sa pinakanasalantang bahagi ng Marawi. Mahalaga ang mga pagkilos na ito, at marami pang kailangang gawin para makabangon nang tuluyan muli ang Marawi."


Bahagi nito ang pagkilala na maliban sa mga gusaling nagiba at buhay na nasira, kailangang pangalagaan ang boses ng mga taga-Marawi sa pagsasagawa ng rehabilitasyon. Ang tinig na pinakamahalagang mapakinggan ay galing sa mga pamayanan na naapektuhan ng digmaan.

October 18, 2020 - 10:57am

Three years since its liberation, Vice Leni Robredo renews the call for a more urgent approach to the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi.

The vice president also calls for the government's commitment to the rebuilding of a more peaceful and prosperous city.

"Liberation entails much more than silencing the gunfire," Robredo says.

May 24, 2020 - 10:56am

Sen. Risa Hontiveros joins calls to highlight the plight of displaced residents of Marawi City more than three years after the siege that destroyed a large part of the capital of Lanao del Sur.

"The bloody and violent siege that took place in Marawi is still alive in the displacement of our sisters and brothers three years later, today. That is 1,095 days of worsening poverty and violence that they have suffered because we still have not made their pain a priority," she says in a statement Sunday.

She says the pandemic makes the displacement of Marawi resdients even more painful as they wait for reconstruction in the city.

"Dahil habang tayo ay nakakulong sa ating mga tahanan, karamihan sa kanila ay wala pa ring mauuwian (While we are confined to our homes, most of them still have no homes at all). Washing hands, social distancing, staying healthy and earning income despite everything are especially heavy when you have not even been given the opportunity to properly recover economically, socially and psychologically, from the trauma and pain of a bloody war."

May 23, 2020 - 2:50pm

The Liberal Party says Marawi residents should return to their homes three years after the bloody Marawi siege, also the eve of the Muslim celebration of the end of Ramadan, or Eid’l Fitr. 

“Kasama kami sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim sa pagdiriwang ng Eid'l Fitr,” says Liberal Party president Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

“Kakaiba ang pagdiriwang ngayong taon, may lockdown at paghihigpit dahil sa sakit na COVID-19. Pinatindi nito ang hirap na dinadanas nila mula pa 2017. Naaalala pa natin ang mga nasirang buhay at kabuhayan ng mga kapatid nating Muslim. Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa nila naramdaman ang rehab ng gobyerno,” he adds.

February 19, 2020 - 8:42pm

There are 422 families living in nine evacuation centers and community-based centers in Marawi, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says in a Mindanao briefer citing December data.

"More than 10,000 families are home-based or staying with host communities according to the Task Force Bangon Marawi. Validation continues in informal ECs and community-based centers."

January 31, 2020 - 2:35pm

The city government of Marawi and Task Force Bangon Marawi held the 16th "Kawiyagan" to provide services, programs and livelihood assistance to residents of the city.

"The Kawiyagan, a Maranao term which means livelihood, is a regular activity spearheaded by the City Government of Marawi and Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), which aims to provide much-needed humanitarian and livelihood assistance to those affected by the 2017 siege," the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process says.

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